About Us

Ann McKay, R.N.C., John McGonigle, M.D. and Mark Brody, M.D. have devoted themselves to homeopathy and related alternative medical treatments. In keeping with the spirit of homeopathy's founder Samuel Hahnemann M.D., we utilize treatments that emphasize safety and the restoration of the sick to health.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Succussing Homeopathy

Long have been the laments about homeopathy's churlish treatment by the pseudo-scientists and second-rate journalists. Two hundred years and counting. When I first learned about homeopathy I was shocked that its practitioners hadn't contacted the media to advise them of this boon to mankind. I went from feeling that we as homeopaths were remiss in not publicizing this amazing healing practice to anger that the media were not interested. As I learned more about the powerful resistances that existed within the scientific and popular world to homeopathy, I became more accepting of the low rank homeopathy was relegated to in the great chain of medical being. Still, it has been hard to continue to patiently accept the low status of homeopathy, and not to be angry at the frequent attempts to "expose" it as fraudulent, to denigrate it, or to consign it to a state of desuetude.

Recently, I had a bit of an epiphany. As my partners in alternative practice, the honorable John McGonigle, MD, Julien Ginsberg-Peltz, MD, and Ann McKay, RNc, who do, in addition to homeopathy, acupuncture, functional medicine, Reiki, nutritional counseling and allopathic primary care medicine in various combinations, contemplate with me expanding our size and our numbers, it has dawned on me that size creates opportunity but also problems.

There is something comfortable and friendly about smallness. I'm aware of this because for many years I had at most one office-mate with whom I shared a much smaller space. Since joining forces with another three, I'm aware of a slight decrease in the level of coziness and intimacy. At our present size, we are small, and overall, our office still feels very comfortable to me. As a foursome, I think we still create an atmosphere that is conducive to the healing work we do. But as I envision our numbers growing, and the size of our office expanding, it concerns me that some of the virtues of smallness may get lost in the expansion. A recent New York Times article describing the architectural and design problems that the giant Kaiser-Permanente group have tried to remedy in order to promote a more salubrious environment for healing sensitized me to how much your size can affect your style.

By extrapolation to the practice of homeopathy, I would predict that greater popularity, visibility and more favorable coverage in the press would have its own downside too. Fame comes at a price, as Tiger Woods would have no trouble telling us. For those who have been following his story in the media, it is not hard to see that his interpersonal pratfalls have become awkward, embarrassing and costly to him, thanks to his being so famous. Be famous and you, too can appear on the pages of the National Enquirer. If homeopathy were to become more popular, it might become less effectively practice, it might be cheapened, and ultimately (horribile dictu) McHomeopathized.

If we can look at the allopathic world out of a perspective less colored by envy, we can see that the flaws of the system are laid bare for all to see. The fact that "alternative" medicine is pursued by millions of Americans who spend billions of out-of-pocket dollars on it is testimony to the dissatisfaction that exists with conventional medicine. Recent health care news indicates that there are (shockingly, it is said) many Americans who refuse to take drugs that research has indicated might reduce their risk of developing cancer, or refuse to get vaccinated against H1N1 even though the vaccines are shown by research to be "safe" and "effective." These reporters do not seem to be aware that Americans have also been reading their articles about the numerous other research-backed treatments that have been ultimately scuttled because the research turned out to be flawed. These would include Diethylstilbestrol, Thalidomide and Bendectin in the past, and more recently, HRT and Vioxx. Fame gives the opportunity for you to be seen under a microscope, warts and all.

So, wonderful as homeopathy is, do we homeopaths really want this kind of scrutiny? Are we that sure of ourselves that we do not think our work can not be criticized, if more visible, not for what it is imagined to be, but for what it really is? And do we want to risk developing an Icarus syndrome, where we become so big, and so strong that we must inevitably fall? I think there is much to be said for the quieter subtler approach. The marquee lights that draw attention can certainly stir up a great deal of envy, but all that glitters is not gold.

One of my many wonderful erstwhile mentors, Roger Morrison, MD, once told me that the best way to popularize homeopathy was to "be successful in your practice." At the time, this seemed to me to be too modest. Surely, homeopathy deserved more credit than the small penumbra of popularity that glowed around a private practice could bring, no matter how successful it was. Now, I begin to see more clearly the perils of size, and the wisdom of smallness. In England in the seventeenth century, there was a relatively quiet change of power, the Glorious Revolution, accomplished with only a few skirmishes, not much to write home about when compared to the American Revolution or the French Revolution. This "bloodless" revolution was achieved by some strategic political moves, and was able to accomplish a change of power in a more quiet way than almost any other historical political revolution. It is this type of quiet revolution, achieved by the power of success, that I think offers homeopathy the best chance of achieving more currency and popular acceptance. It is indeed, to paraphrase what Roger Morrison wisely said, our own success that will succuss us into power. There was also a guy named Hahnemann who came before Morrison who had a few things to say about less being more.